32 Bittersweet Years Behind Bars

32 Bittersweet Years Behind Bars

Fall has arrived. The larches have turned yellow, and the leaves are falling in the streets, covering sidewalks, gardens and roofs of colored hues.

Since 1990, Fall has typically been a very busy time for Sam Lazenby and Hollie Wheeler, running Nelson's Chocofellar out of Front Street location here in Nelson BC. It was with passion and discipline, from the early hours to late in the evening, chocolate machines running, bars being wrapped and orders being packed, 6 to 7 days a week. But Fall 2022, things are different. It has now been 1 year since Mark Tomek and Aurelien Sudan have stepped in at the helm of Nelson's Chocofellar. Sam and Hollie, the original founders have officially retired. Their mission of bringing fine chocolate to the people of Nelson and beyond has been and remains, a tremendous success.

Sam and Hollie in 1990,creating chocofellar

Sam & Hollie with their first Chocofellar bars in 1990.

Sam received his introduction to the world of fine chocolate under the guidance of Bernard Callebaut in Calgary. In 1989 Hollie and Sam relocated to the Kootenays and bravely started Nelson's Chocofellar in the Anglican Church Hall on Ward Street Nelson BC. They were the first official chocolate brand in our little mountain town. They created and maintained an iconic chocolate business, while successfully raising 2 children, Issac and Simon. They produced countless delicious chocolates, Santa's, Bunnies, bars and other confections. Sam may have even made and hand wrapped close to a million chocolate bars, numbers may not be accurate but it felt that way.. During their first few years in business, they couldn't afford or find childcare, so they were juggling chocolate making tasks with the needs of their children.

Tempering on the marble, chocofellar archive 1990.

Sam tempering chocolate on a marble table, long before purchasing his first JKV tempering machine.

While Sam loves to ski, motorcycle, hike, waterski or play shinny hockey, Hollie loves to paint and create Art, and finally after all these years, they have time for their passions and family. Crunch time is over, 32 years spent behind bittersweet chocolate bars. That's 32 crazy Christmases, the busiest time of the year, including a transition year in 2021 as they passed the torch to Aurelien Sudan and Mark Tomek.

Sam and Hollie, 2022

So if you cross paths with Hollie or Sam, tip your hat to them, give them a high-five. They did it. They did what was seemingly impossible. They poured their heart and souls into Nelson's Chocofellar and introduced fine chocolate to an entire community and with the support of the amazing Kootenay community were able to forge out a life for family and retire in this small mountain town.

 Aurelien Sudan Swiss Chocolatier at Nelson's Chocofellar

Since October 2021, Swiss Chocolatier Aurelien Sudan has been the Chief of Texture and Taste at Nelson's Chocofellar and has led all creative and production efforts." 📸 Tamarack Media.